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Viento De Agua: Fruta Madura

James Nadal By

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Viento De Agua, with the release of Fruta Madura, creates a novel approach to the Puerto Rican rhythms of bomba and plena. Blending vocals, stringed instrumentation, horns and woodwinds with a solid percussive foundation presents a veritable tropical feast.

Bomba and plena, though often mentioned together, are clearly distinctive in the type, size and shape of drums, respective dances, vocal arrangements and structure, and corresponding call and response. Plenas are performed with hand-held panderetas and bombas on barrel-shaped drums called barriles. Both have low, mid and high-tuned drums with designated patterns, producing the percussive layers associated with this music.

Héctor "Tito" Matos, the percussion director/producer of the band, is acknowledged as a master plenero. Adding the arrangements of Ricardo Pon (musical director/producer) make for a well-balanced record with seven plenas and five bombas. The lyrics are street-wise, humorous, unpretentious, and of course romantic. The responding choruses are contagious and all are encouraged to join in.

The record opens with "Ciudadano del Mundo," a fast-paced plena with a variety of singers each having a turn at lead. Matos is the primary vocalist on eight of the following songs, where he gets to display his expert phrasing and intonations. "El Mareíto," "Lola" (with sax solo by Miguel Zenon), "Las Batatas" (a jab at local politicians), and especially "No me apaguen la candela," with its accelerating tempo are some of his best numbers. On "Pienso en Ti," the addition of cuatro player Christian Nieves gives a nice folkloric touch. Veteran singer Sammy Tanco is brought in on the title track and on the celebratory plena "La Parranda."

The exceptional effort of Ricardo Pons on saxophones, flute, clarinet, arranging and composing is a catalyst that drives the music forward. Fruta Madura is a team effort with all musicians adding their own individual touches, be it on piano, baritone sax, trumpet, trombone, interchanging percussion instruments, or vocals.

Viento De Agua is a premier exponent of these multifaceted genres which require sincere familiarity and appreciation. Drawing upon a vast collective experience to keep the enjoyment foremost in focus, Fruta Madura is bomba and plena at its best.

Track Listing: Cuidadano del Mundo; El Mareíto; Fruta Madura; Lola; No me apaguen la candela; Pienso en ti; Las Batatas; El que no tiene inga; Admisión Gratuita; Mi Quinto Lloro; Oye, Carmiña; La Parranda.

Personnel: Héctor "Tito" Matos: lead vocals, chorus, percussion; Ricardo Pons: saxophone, flute, clarinet, chorus; Sammy Tanco: lead vocals (3,12) and chorus; Luis Aquino: trombone; Luis Aquino: trumpet; Roberto Calderon: baritone sax; Erik Noel Rosado: lead vocal(11), percussion; Juan "Llonsi" Martínez: percussion; Efraín Martínez: drums; Luis Amed Irizarry: piano, melodica; Joksan Ramos: percussion, Guillermo Cubero: percussion; Javier Curet: bass, guitar, violin, vocals; Miguel Zenón: alto sax (4); Christian Nieves: cuatro (5,6); Jerry Medina: lead vocal (1).

Title: Fruta Madura | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced

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